Our secrets for making Basque cheeses

The affinage process

It takes time to make a good cheese

Agour's motto? Do better than the market. Since the beginning of the 90's, the Cheese Factory has focused on extending the maturing time. We were then only maturing cheese up to 4 months. This was extended first to 6 months then to over a year, as the demand was growing for a more mature product

Today, our range of cheeses includes maturing periods ranging from 4 to 18 months. 6 out of 10 cheeses are matured for 6 months and 2 for 12 months. The 18-month maturation amounts for less than 5% of our sales. Extending the affinage time implies larger caves to store the cheeses. Our latest building extensions allow us to age over 100,000 cheeses at one time.

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The Agour Cheese Dairy also practices "custom ripening" – batch selection, rinds rubbed with Espelette pepper, small series of a few tons

From steel to wood

Since 2008, Agour has been maturing the largest part of thei cheeses on raw spruce boards. A manufacturing secret borrowed from the Comté and Beaufort cheese affineurs. Wood has exceptional qualities for sheep's cheese: it develops the taste, favors the maturing flora, and regulates humidity. In the Basque Country, Agour is the only cheese maker to have developed affinage on wooden boards.

Well cared for

During affinage, the Ossau-Iraty PDO sheep's milk cheeses are flipped, dry rubbed or with brine, and brushed about every ten days.

Discover the other manufacturing secrets